Thursday, October 07, 2004

NR1008a:The pros and cons of abolishing Congress

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release October 8, 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362


Anakpawis Representative Crispin B. Beltran today expressed a measure of
agreement with the proposal of lawyer Romulo Macalintal that the country go
"Congress-less" from 2007 to 2010 in order to save at least P67.7 billion that
could help the country squeeze itself out of financial difficulties.
"If the P67.7 billion in savings would be directly used to increase the
allocations for agriculture, agrarian reform, the budgets of public schools,
state universities, public hospitals, as well used for the creation of
genuinely subsidized housing for the urban poor, then the proposal is
attractive. But knowing the orientation of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration,
all savings would be directed towards debt servicing and military modernization.
This makes the proposal odious. There are heavier reasons the
Pinoy-on-the-street could think of for abolishing Congress," he said.
The veteran labor leader said that he found nothing tragic or insulting about
the idea of abolishing Congress per se. "So far, in my experience as a
Congressman, the House has not approved any legislative measure that has
directly served the interest of the Filipino people. The laws passed by
Congress such as the Electric Power Industry Act (EPIRA) of 2001 and the
National Government Center Act (NGC) of 2002 for instance have created untold
damage to the economic welfare and housing security of millions of Filipinos.
Legislative measures aiming to alleviate the people's poverty such as a P125
wage hike and a P3,000 salary increase for government employees are either
thumbed down or completely ignored," he said.
Beltran said that for many Filipinos, Congress is but a pit full of snakes and
crocodiles where the rich, powerful and influential fight over the nation's
wealth. "I doubt very much that Congress will be very much missed if it were
abolished. It has not exactly been an institution reflecting the ideals of the
Filipino people to defend economic and political sovereignty, and pass laws
that will protect the poor and working people's welfare against the abuse,
exploitation and plunder of big foreign and local business," he said. "Many
even consider Congress a leading bastion of corruption," he said.
Finally, Beltran said that the proposals on how to help save the country from
the ever worsening fiscal crisis were getting 'wackier and wackier.'
"I would like to hear Malacañang propose that all high-ranking government
officials sell their mansions, luxury cars and other assets to contribute to
the dwindling national coffers. A ban on subsidized foreign travel of
government executives would also be most welcome."
"Malacañang is avoiding the true causes of this fiscal crisis and its disastrous
impact on the lives of the constituency. The palliative measures that are being
proposed such as the coupon system and now the abolition of Congress will not
do the people much good in the long run if the basic economic framework of
economic liberalization and privatization remains. The Arroyo administration's
dog-like loyalty to the tenets of globalization and its subservience to the
dictates of foreign multilateral finance agencies such as the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are at the core of the
worsening disaster which is the Philippine economy and fiscal situation," he
concluded. ###


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